REVISION OF GREEN LAWS MAY HIT DELHI
The ministry of environment and forests has asked for the public’s comments on reviewing five crucial environmental laws, including the Air and Water (prevention and control of pollution) Acts—any amendment to which will impact the city massively.
Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), the pollution watchdog that implements these acts in Delhi, will not comment. DPCC officials claimed MoEF hasn’t asked them to. “We are not sure if we are supposed to express our views. We may comment once the draft new law is ready. The state governments can’t do much when a committee to review the laws has already been set up,” said a senior official.
Sanjiv Kumar, environment secretary, Delhi, also said he has no idea if state governments are to make suggestions. The committee, however, said on MoEF’s website that it “desires” to engage in consultation with state governments.
Meanwhile, environmentalists are concerned they may not be able to articulate how these Acts can be strengthened given the ministry’s 1,000 character (a little over six text messages) limit. Many are worried the review has been commissioned to dilute environmental laws and penalties on polluters, especially industries.
Rahul Choudhury, advocate and NGT Bar Association member said, “There is no scope to dilute these laws because they are already very weak.” He cited the example of state pollution control boards that continue to renew no objection certificates to industries not conforming to norms. “There is no provision in the acts to review past conduct by pollution boards and revoke NOCs. The head of the board is usually a political appointee, often with no knowledge of environmental issues. Such loopholes make things easy for industries,” he said.
Comparing the country’s pollution control boards with the US Environmental Protection Agency, Choudhury said, “They have far more stringent parameters. In the last few years, more than 80% industries in Ghaziabad and Noida have not been complying with the Air Act”.
C R Babu, DU professor emeritus and chairman of the state-level expert appraisal committee, and Anumita Roychowdhury, head of Centre for Science and Environment’s clean air programme, said emissions from automobiles need to be brought under the Air Act from the motor vehicle (MV) Act. As of now, vehicular emissions are under MV Act.
“I am quite certain that this process has been started to weaken the acts but this will not help business in the long run. We will lose out tremendously on natural capital and ecological services. Can you imagine what’s going to happen if air and water pollution control laws are relaxed further in Delhi? People can’t survive in the city if that happens,” said Babu.
1. Why has the ministry of environment and forests asked for public comments on environmental laws?
2. Why are environmentalists worried?
3. How do India’s pollution control boards compare with their counterparts in the US?
4. What will happen if air and water pollution control laws are relaxed in Delhi?.